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Title: Rómverja saga - Saga o Rzymianach : studium nad recepcją kultury łacińskiej w średniowiecznej Skandynawii
Authors: Bartusik, Grzegorz
Advisor: Morawiec, Jakub
Keywords: Rzym (państwo) - cywilizacja; tożsamość kulturowa; Skandynawia - średniowiecze; literatura łacińska; tłumaczenie literatury
Issue Date: 2019
Publisher: Katowice : Uniwersytet Śląski
Abstract: My doctoral dissertation focuses on Icelandic literature and society from around 1150–1550 in the context of the reception and reinterpretation of Latin/Ancient Roman culture in mediæval Icelandic texts after the late introduction of non-runic written culture in Scandinavia. The purpose of the thesis is to discuss the possible Latin/Ancient Roman influences on Old Norse-Icelandic literature, language, mentality, and identity. It employs Rómverja saga as an example, along with the related Latin and Old Norse-Icelandic literature. Rómverja saga is a collection of Old Norse translations of selected ancient Latin works: Sallust’s Bellum Iugurthinum and De coniuratione Catilinae, and Lucan’s De Bello Civili. The chronological framework I set up for my thesis extends from as early as the second half of the 12th century (the composition of Rómverja saga has often been dated to around 1180), to as late as the half of 14th century, when the preserved manuscripts were produced (ÁM 595 a-b 4o , ÁM 225 fol. and ÁM 226 fol.). The mediæval manuscript ÁM 595 a–b 4o contains an earlier, fragmented version of Rómverja saga, (“The history of the Romans”). The younger and complete, although abridged version, is preserved in the manuscripts ÁM 225 fol. and ÁM 226 fol. When the research is necessitated by the problems of reception, I venture beyond these chronological boundaries to the time of transition from the medieval to the early modern period in Iceland (ca. 1550). Until recently, Rómverja saga was little studied. Over the years, Rómverja saga manuscripts have been edited by Konráð Gíslason (1860), Meißner (1910), and, most recently, Þorbjörg Helgadóttir (2010). The research on Rómverja saga manuscripts, including, the questions of dating (and the text itself), manuscript authorship, ownership and provenance, and the narrative’s connections to Sverris saga and Veraldar saga has been conducted by Meißner (1903), Hofmann (1986), Þorbjörg Helgadóttir (1987–1988; 1996), Hermann Pálsson (1988; 1991), Gropper (Würth) (1998; 2009), Robertson (2004), Stoltz (2009), and Wellendorf (2014). My approach, however, reaches beyond these questions. I examine the place of Rómverja saga in the cultural transfer of knowledge and learning, as well as the saga’s place in the civilising process of the Europeanisation of Scandinavia. Latin or Ancient Roman culture had flowed into Scandinavia via waves of texts from the South. Literary contacts between continental Europe and Scandinavia started as early as the Christianisation of the North. Powerful currents of Latin learning and continental European culture can be traced in Iceland from that period onwards. The North underwent Christianisation, the first profound colonial civilising process, in the 11th and 12th centuries. The region opened up to Latin culture, and later to the courtly culture and the primary intellectual stream of the Middle Ages in Europe – translatio studii et imperii, the cross-cultural exchange of knowledge – the transfer of written knowledge through translation – between the societies of Europe. Rómverja saga is an intriguing manifestation of the Europeanisation of the mediæval North through the means of translation. By focusing on this ‘displaced’ text, an Old Norse-Icelandic translation/compilation of several Latin/Ancient Roman texts, I intend to examine the cultural connections between the two seemingly unrelated periods, namely Antiquity and the Middle Ages, and places: the Roman Empire and the Viking-Age and mediæval Scandinavian kingdoms and the Icelandic Commonwealth. This dissertation aims to describe how specific Latin manuscripts holding ancient Roman texts were imported from continental Europe to Scandinavia and Iceland to the certain monasteries and cathedral schools, the cathedral at Skálaholt and the Þingeyrar monastery. There, they ended up in the hands of monks who not only used them to teach Latin and possibly history, but also translated Latin texts into vernacular. Further consequence of the importation of manuscripts is the influence the process yielded on the production of texts in situ, the education of the country’s intellectual elites, and social change sensu largo: in mindset and identity. I primarily focus on the main intellectual stream of the Middle Ages in Europe – translatio studii, cultural transfer or cross-cultural exchange of knowledge and learning between societies in Europe. I also examine the ‘cultural imperialism’ that helped the Catholic Church and the continental monarchies gain influence across Northern Europe. Through these cultural means, they were inducing those within their sphere of influence to imitate the forms and values of the dominant culture. I reflect on the mediæval Icelanders' pursuit of knowledge of the South and Greco-Roman Antiquity as a deliberate activity undertaken at all levels: starting with the import of manuscripts, translation and reading practices, intertextual relations, all the way to changes in social cognition, mentality, and identity. Preceded by an introduction and followed by a conclusion, my dissertation is divided into five chapters. The introduction pertains to the background of cultural transfer: people, places, trails, institutions, chronology, locations, and manuscripts. It also establishes the methodical and theoretical background of my approach to the Icelandic sagas and ancient Roman literature. Throughout my discussion I refer to a number of theoretical perspectives employed in fields such as linguistics, literary studies, and history. The research undertaken in this study is based upon methodological principles set out by postcolonial theory, reader-response criticism, theory of intertextuality, material philology, approaches to cognitive linguistics as established by George Lakoff, and approaches to historical cognitive linguistics by Andreas Musolff. These theories enabled me to look at Rómverja saga from multiple angles. The resulting portrait is that of a complex phenomenon featuring material, textual, intertextual, linguistic, and socio-cultural dimensions of the text. The first chapter is a textual analysis of Rómverja saga addressing the question of what became of the ancient Roman text that would eventually be translated by a mediæval Icelander. Digging into the textual strata of this case of cultural transfer, I open up an intertextual perspective. The underlaying question is: what happened to this cultural product that moved through time and space to emerge and become enshrined in new contexts and configurations? What are the differences between the original text and the target text? How did the translator re-read the text? The translator, confronted with the texts of foreign linguistic, sociohistorical, cultural and literary origins, as ancient Rome must have been to a mediæval Icelander, had to decode the text and translate it not only from a foreign language into their own but also from a foreign cultural context into their own. Differences and tension within the text indicate the presence of conflicting discourses. This is particularly valid not only within the interfaces of cultures and languages that collide in the translated text but especially in the case of a text that was thought as a compilation of texts; texts that had originated in different ideological contexts. How did the compiler of Rómverja saga resolve the contradiction between the republican Sallustius and the antimonarchist Lucanus, whose works have radical republican and antimonarchical ideological implication, and his own Icelandic literary milieu, whose writings have conservative and monarchist ideological implications? In this part of my dissertation, I explore omissions, additions, and other modifications that indicate shifts in ideology, from anti-royalist to monarchist, and the differences in values and morals between ancient Romans and mediæval Icelanders. In the second chapter, I analyse the social milieu of identified readers of Rómverja saga and owners of the Rómverja saga manuscripts from a prosopographical perspective to define the target group of readers of Rómverja saga in the Middle Ages. As a sample I refer to a group of 30 late mediæval and early modern readers identified on the basis of marginal notes left by them in the Rómverja saga manuscripts. This group of readers consisted of landowners with hereditary lands or land grants, often civil officers of high rank or clergymen, parish priests and bishops. Many of them educated in the Icelandic cathedral schools or abroad at the European universities or cathedral schools, learners of Latin as a second language, all of them males with one exception for a woman. The third chapter examines the intertextual relations surrounding Rómverja saga and addresses how the saga became intertwined with vernacular Icelandic literature. On the basis of citations of the Rómverja saga text, I propose the dating to the third quarter of the 12th century, contrary to the latest dating argued by Jonas Wellendorf – AD 1250-1350, and the localisation of the text itself (the cathedral at Skálaholt or the Þingeyrar monastery), the functions of the text (history textbook), and the literary milieu of the author (a learned monastic environment). In the fourth chapter, I focus on the strata of the social cognition as resembled by the language of the Old Icelandic and Latin texts, looking for traces of Latin-Old Norse interfaces, the encounters of these two conceptual worlds and their interactions in the vernacular Icelandic literature as a consequence of the influence of Rómverja saga. With the flow of Latin learning to Iceland, the Old Norse-Icelandic conceptual world did not remain intact. The classics imported from the South and the Latin language had an important influence on the mediæval Northern World. Through translation, mediæval Icelanders incorporated European culture into their own, which made them not only familiar with continental European culture but also enabled them to identify with the region. Therefore, in the following part of my dissertation, I also seek to answer the following questions: to what extent was Old Norse-Icelandic language and literature, in the sense of semantics/meaning, influenced by Latin language and literature? Changes in mentality came hand-in-hand with language change, but what precisely was the influence of classical ideas on Old Norse-Icelandic thought? Might these ideas have been to a certain degree integrated into the mentality of mediæval Icelanders? Or at least the mentality of certain groups inside mediæval Icelandic society? In my dissertation, I explore these questions while looking for evidence of the transfer of social norms in the form of cognitive metaphors from continental Europe as they are found in the Sagas of Antiquity (Antikensagas) and the vernacular sagas. The research in this part of my dissertation focuses on social cognition in the context of Latin and Old Norse-Icelandic literature and language, their interfaces, the cross-cultural adaptation of cognitive structures (a process wherein a bit of cultural information is brought into a society), its existing schemata, existing meaning structures, and how it may be subsequently accommodated and assimilated into the social structure, causing changes in mentality and worldview. In order to see the network of beliefs and attitudes (connected with the worldview of the cultural community from which it stems) which underlie Rómverja saga and its texti recepti, Sallustius and Lucanus (and which would be otherwise invisible while always implicit in the texture of the saga), I dig deeper into the text and its language to find cognitive structures and metaphors. Using as examples works by Lucanus and Sallustius, and works such as Rómverja saga and other Antikensagas, as well as related vernacular Old Norse-Icelandic literature, I consider the following: First, if and how were these cultural concepts translated from Latin to Old Norse-Icelandic? Second, how was meaning changed, accommodated, or adapted? Third, to what extent was Old Norse-Icelandic language, in the sense of semantics and meaning, influenced by Latin? Fourth, might these Ancient Roman-Latin ideas have been to a certain degree integrated into the mentality of mediæval Icelanders (or at least the worldview of certain groups inside mediæval Icelandic society)? Fifth, if yes, in what way was the mentality of mediæval Icelanders affected by these concepts? Examples of four conceptual metaphors present in the mediæval Icelandic literature are given and analysed as culturally transferred notions of Latin/ Ancient Roman provenance: FORTUNE AS A WHEEL, FATE AS A WOVEN CLOTH, SOCIETY AS A BODY, and RULER AS A FATHER OF FATHERLAND. The fifth chapter concerns the mediæval theory of Trojan origins of Scandinavians as an example of a hybridised identity and examines the uses of Rómverja saga as a source text in its development. Literature is actively involved in the making of society. It plays a significant role in discursive practice. Texts participate in creating the cultural moment from which they originated and in which they were read, and should be associated with other phenomena in society that occurred during a given period. Literature produces cultural effects. The truly important feature of this phenomenon is the creation of hybrid cultures open to continued changes. Therefore, we should read cultural transfer in terms of ‘cultural transplantation’: elements become grafted from one ‘cultural body’ to another and are in turn adapted to new cultural environments. Through an assimilationist attitude towards foreign language and culture – Latin in the case of mediæval Scandinavia – it was willingly and knowingly embraced by leading mediæval Icelandic intellectuals as a modus operandi of the society's Europeanisation. Ultimately, a kind of hybrid identity was developed in the North from following substrates: Old Norse oral tradition, Christianity, and continental Latin culture. They merged in the mediæval Icelandic society embedded deeply in the pre-Christian traditions, but strongly influenced by Christianity and Latinity.
Appears in Collections:Rozprawy doktorskie (W.Hum.)

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